Saturday, October 20, 2012


Just after we went through security we saw two people sitting in those airport carts they use to shuffle people, usually but not exclusively with disabilities, around. I glanced at them because the gate was nearly half a kilometre, I know because the guy at check in told me, away. One of the carts had a step up on to it that would be impossible for me to manage, the other looked Goldilocks so I asked if I could get a ride. She nicely indicated for me to get on.

I climbed on the back, the step being a little higher than I'm comfortable with but I got into place after only a little struggle. I asked the driver, before we took off, if she could drop me off where there weren't a lot of people as I don't like being stared at when I do simple things like transfer from cart to chair. She spoke English as a second language and didn't understand my request. I tried a second time. Still she was confused, "What are you asking me?" she asked.

The other driver was listening in on the conversation and drove his cart over and spoke to her in her own language. I saw understanding hit her face, "ohohohohohOhOhOhOhOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOH" then she nodded to me and said that she would be sure to be careful. We drove along leaving Joe way in the dust. He had my wheelchair so he just happily pushed it along. He seldomly pushes an empty wheelchair and he motored along with it.

When we got to the destination, the driver pulled over to the side and behind a column, "Here," she said in an accent fragrant with spice, "this is a place where there are no violent eyes." I was stunned at the turn of phase, at the accuracy of that phrase, when Joe came along. I got out of the cart and into the chair. We thanked her and made our way quickly to the gate area.

"Violent Eyes."

A few weeks ago I was doing a workshop with people with disabilities and a young woman came to ask me if being stared at was a kind of bullying. She'd been told that it wasn't and that she should be 'thankful for' the fact that they weren't calling her names. She was kind of mad at herself because she found the staring hurtful. She wanted to be away from the constant gawking. I told her that staring was just another form of social violence and that I understood what she meant.

I so wish I had had the term 'violent eyes' to give to her. I would love her to know that her feelings are a result of their behaviour NOT her disability and NOT her weakness.

"Violent Eyes!"

It was nice being able to move, awkwardly and stiffly, from the cart to the chair in complete safety, without fear of the assault of violent eyes.


Anonymous said...

Wow - the woman nailed it on the head. She may not have English as her first language, but she certainly had the language of cruelty in grasp.

Oh - I envied you getting your ride. Last time I went through an airport, having to leave my holiday rented cart at the hotel - it was torture. It was far, far, too long to walk - yet there was no assistance available.

I would have paid to have had such a ride. So glad that worked out for you.

John R. said...

I will use this term is amazing how words we have in our lexicon, when coupled or connected, can turn into haunting phrases and descriptions....

I hope you or anyone reading this encounter no violent eyes anytime soon!!

Nan said...

Great phrase. So thankful that we speak many languages so that there is the opportunity in translation for laughter AND a new and more descriptive way of seeing things.

Louna said...

What a great phrase! And I'm glad the driver did not dismiss your concern and allowed you to get down the cart in a place where you were comfortable.

George said...

The woman simply nailed it on the head.

theknapper said...

She really understood....violence has many forms.

Faery said...

I don't know what language was her native tongue but I wonder if 'violent eyes' is a literal translation from whatever phrase she would use to describe those stares in her language.

I'm so glad you found someone who understands.